History of Grace Dieu
Although the area around Grace Dieu has historical connections dating back to the Romans and beyond the Priory came into being around 1235-1241 as a house for Augustinian canonesses, and was dedicated to God, the Holy Trinity and St Mary and was founded by Rohese (Rose) de Verdon. Rose was a member of a landowning family with estates around Belton. Her father Nicholas de Verdon had been given the land around Snape by William Wastneis, lord of the manor of Osgathorpe, to add to his park at Belton. Rose endowed the priory with “all my manor of Belton… the park, warren and mills’ and with the Manor of Kirby in Kesteven, Lincolnshire. The charter of the foundress, confirmed by Bishop Grosseteste of Lincoln in 1241, describes the priory as “the church of the Holy Trinity of the Grace of God at Belton dedicated to God and St Mary”. This provided the priory with the epithet Gratia Dei or Grace Dieu by which it is still known. Rose was buried in the priory chapel, and later records state that an annual sum of 12d was set aside to maintain a light shining on the tomb. The tomb and effigy were later removed, possibly at the Dissolution, to the parish church of Belton, where it can still be see today.
The first prioress was Agnes de Gresley, who was replaced in 1243 by Mary de Stretton. There was some concern about the spiritual state and the material welfare of the house in its early days.
John Comyn, Earl of Buchan and the Lord of Whitwick added more land to the priory estates in 1306. This comprised 100 acres of waste (newly cleared land from the forest) at Whitwick and Shepshed, probably equivalent to the current park at Grace Dieu.
By 1377 the priory had 16 nuns, with a hospital for 12 poor people attached. The account book of Grace Dieu for 1414-1418 survives in the Public Record office. The accounts were kept by Dame Petronella and her assistant Dame Katherine Midleton and detail stock controls (including pigs and cows), rent levels for lands and buildings, and the sale of produce. Some of the rents were large, such as land in Belton valued at £21 17s 9d. Sale of fish from the mill at Belton brought in £6.
Although there were some problems around 1440-41 between the prioress and her coterie of favourites, and the community as a whole nothing further dramatic appears have happened until 1535.
Grace Dieu, like most English nunneries, was by no means wealthy, and in 1535 its net income was valued at around £92 per annum. In 1536, however, the King’s visitors of religious houses provided a significantly lower valuation of £72 13s 4d.
In 1536-37 because of the lower valuation the priory was a candidate for suppression as a lesser monastery but it was reprieved, however the reprieve was short lived and in 1538 the priory was dissolved.
William Wordsworth stayed with his patron (Beamont) at nearby Coleorton Hall where he wrote:
“Beneath yon eastern ridge, the craggy bound,
Rugged and high, of Charnwood’s forest ground,
Stand yet, but, Stranger, hidden from thy view
The ivied ruins of forlorn Grace Dieu,
Erst a religious House, which day and night
With hymns resounded and the chanted rite.”
It was the principal Percy seat until the late 14th century. William de Percy, a favourite of William the Conqueror, built a manor house here in the 11th century, although nothing remains of this earlier building. Reputedly it was here that rebel barons drew up Magna Carta in 1215. In 1224 Henry III granted a licence to a later William de Percy to hold a Friday market in the town and in 1308 Henry de Percy received a licence to fortify the manor house. During the Wars of the Roses the Percys supported the House of Lancaster. Following the battle of Towton in 1461 the victorious Yorkist side, led by the Earl of Warwick, marched on Spofforth, burning the castle and plundering the local countryside. The castle lay in ruins for nearly 100 years until 1559, when it was restored by Henry, Lord Percy. By this time, however, the seat of the Percys had shifted to Alnwick in Northumberland. The last recorded occupant was the castle steward Sampson Ingleby, who died in 1604. The castle was finally reduced to ruin during the Civil War. In 1924 Charles Henry, Baron Leconfield, transferred ownership of the site to the state by deed of gift.
Spofforth Castle is situated on a small rocky outcrop overlooking the village. The medieval manor house was arranged around a courtyard but only the west range, which contained the principal apartments, still stands. Only earthworks and some low walls remain of the north, south and east ranges.
A flight of steps leads down from the site of the courtyard to the ground floor of the west range. At the south end is the earliest part of the building, dating from the 13th century. The west range was built against the rocky outcrop. A passage cut directly through the rock led up to the great hall but was later blocked, probably in the 15th century. The remains of a row of columns and stone corbels on the west wall date from the 14th century, when a stone vault was added. At first-floor level the east and west walls were totally rebuilt during the 15th century with impressive windows in each wall. At the far end of the undercroft the solar, or private chamber, is reached through a door in the north-west corner. The solar block, added in the 14th century, is very similar in design to that at Markenfield Hall, near Ripon, with a spiral stair turret leading from the main chamber up to the first floor. The door in the north-east corner leads into the garderobe, or latrine tower. On the first floor a passage, now ruined, leading from a private chamber and chapel, gave access to the great hall. The great hall could also have been entered through a doorway at the south end of the east wall, where there would probably also have been a passage leading to the buttery and kitchen. The chapel has a finely moulded window in the west wall but was probably later converted to accommodation, a garderobe being added in the east wall.
Thanks for the message. Its a nice place, I have to say that in general there seems to be a lot of views of Mauritius pictures in general via google so interest is high
No problem Andrew. Would be honoured. If the copy image is to grainy I will hunt out the original and email to you, it should be better
thanks,i just saw your message...i'm painting several pictures at once but when it is finished i will let you know.
Have a nice day
Thanks Jerry. They are like a window to the world :-) Dave
Thanks for the comment, its nice to know people look at the photos. I think Millars Dale is also the name of the valley that the Wye runs through. Water cum jolly is part of the valleys as is the village of Millars Dale, Suggest you have a look at the OS map of the area for more information
Aston Martins walk on water!
Poetic scenery,elegant capture.
Sincere greetings from Taiwan.